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This blog post is the fourth in a series of pieces around data visualisation that will be shared on the SAGE Campus blog throughout May. They have been created by Andy Kirk, a UK-based data visualisation specialist, design consultant, training provider, lecturer, author, speaker, researcher,  editor of an award-winning website, and course instructor on Introduction to Data Visualisation

Every week in May we will be sharing Andy’s observations from his 'little’ of visualisation design blog series. This week’s post covers clever approaches to axis. Stay tuned throughout May for further posts on photo-imagery.


This is part of a series of posts about the 'little of visualisation design', respecting the small decisions that make a big difference towards the good and bad of this discipline. In each post I'm going to focus on just one small matter - a singular good or bad design choice - as demonstrated by a sample project. Each project may have many effective and ineffective aspects, but I'm just commenting on one.
Andy Kirk

The projects that are the focus of this post demonstrate clever approaches to axis, and come from the Washington Post, the New York Times and Sports TV coverage.

LOCATING Y-AXIS LABELS

The project in focus here comes from the Washington Post, titled 'How terrorism in the West compares to terrorism everywhere else' by Lazaro Gamio and Tim Meko, putting into context the relative levels of terrorist-related deaths in the West. The y-axis levels sit within the chart, creating a novel approach not usually seen.

Read the full post


CLEVER AXIS-SCALING

By effectively setting the y-axis maximum range to 50 notice how the recent increase in incidents of violence against refugees becomes even more striking, as the line climbs up to the height of 76, far beyond the height of the chart and almost intruding on the map area. An example of a subtle but smart editorial design decision.

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SENSIBLE AXIS INTERVALS

The graphic in focus is taken from a screen shot of BT Sports (UK) TV coverage of the Australia vs. England 1-day cricket match. This chart shows the cumulative progress of run scoring for each team across the 50-overs that each team bats for. The chart helps to show whether Australia appear to be on track for victory or otherwise given England's rate of run scoring. My issue with this chart's design concerns the y-axis scale intervals that use units of 70 runs.

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Access the full post


Look out for next week’s post on photo-imagery!

If you missed last week's post on using annotations, you can read it here.


If you’d like to learn how to transform your data into powerful visualisations and infographics join Andy’s course Introduction to Data Visualisation, starting 25th June. By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • harness color, composition, interactivity, and annotation to tell your data story

  • tailor your visualisations to your audience’s needs and integrate critical thinking into your design decisions

  • determine what is the most important, relevant and interesting content to portray to your audience

Find out more and enroll on Introduction to Data Visualisation